Q: I’ve been watching “Winning Time” and have tried to familiarize myself with its fictionalized elements versus historical facts. And I’m aware that not all the people depicted in that show endorse their portrayal. But I am curious what long-time beat writers think about Adrien Brody’s Pat Riley or if it is too delicate a topic for the local beat to write and talk about. – Eddie.
A: I think it captures many elements of Pat Riley’s personality, mostly how driven he was early in his coaching career. And, yes, among the qualities I would say were noticeable early even in Pat’s initial Heat coaching days was a ruthless pursuit of victory. But much has changed over the years. If anything, I think the falling out with the Lakers (sorry if that’s a spoiler) was part of a journey to enlightenment in how you have to change as the game (and world) changes. The Pat Riley you are witnessing in “Winning Time” would have real struggles in today’s NBA. All of that said, I take the series more as an amusing diversion than any type of historical context.
A: And that certainly could be the case. But Pat Riley also is aware of how lingering trade rumors can limit the productivity of a young player. So there may have to come a point where Pat or someone else in the organization formally pulls the plug. We saw that in 2018 with Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves, as part of the Josh Richardson preservation program (and then eight months later, Josh was dealt to Philadelphia for Jimmy).
Q: Pat Riley has a clear understanding of if it’s too much for Damian Lillard, simply don’t trade. The Heat has an excellent roster as is. – Morgan, New Orleans.
A: “Excellent” could be a stretch. But certainly competitive. But a trade for Damian Lillard would be as much, if not more, for the postseason, than any time of regular-season laurels.